From [TBC] To The Polar Lands - Rolling Russia / "Near Abroad" News Thread

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Late in the year to be starting a rolling news thread but plenty of news around.

New law to limit foreign ownership of media outlets to 20%, down from 50%, proposed, likely to strengthen pro-government sources:

Fairly large anti-war protests in Moscow last week:

Depressingly, polling suggests that Putin might actually be winning back support from 'liberal' Moscow and St Petersburg, though - traditionally the only real focal points for opposition. How long that will last if rouble continues to decline remains a question.

Mikhail Khodorkovsky has formed a new political platform in exile and says that he'd be willing to lead Russia, if called upon. For the record, i would also be willing to lead Russia if called upon and would estimate my chances of it actually happening to be roughly the same. Note the shift from "oligarch" to "tycoon" in the western press over the last few years.

In other exile news, Saakashvili now lives in Williamsburg and is still kind of a dick:

In other oligarch news, Vladimir Yevtushenkov, owner of Bashneft, and one of the richest men in Russia is still under house arrest:

Seen by some as a warning shot to oligarchs to think twice about trying a 'palace coup' vs Putin to head off further economic losses. More likely a warning shot to the west that tightening the vice on Russia's economy with sanctions might be met with further moves to consolidate Kremlin control domestically.

Speculation that Russia has signed a $10bn agreement with South Africa to build nuclear power stations, denied for the moment by the SA government.

The most popular foreign leader, according a poll of Ukrainians, is...Alexander Lukashenko!Despite widely being thought of, in Russia, and the west, as a moron, Lukashenko has played both sides pretty well in the Ukraine crisis and is apparently gaining popularity in Belarus. idk if his wife is still under house arrest.

Gulnara Karimova has hired a UK-based PR company to highlight her own house arrest in Tashkent. Still a really weird situation.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Wednesday, 24 September 2014 10:17 (six years ago) link

ShariVari for president of Russia, I support

, Wednesday, 24 September 2014 12:03 (six years ago) link

Depressingly, polling suggests that Putin might actually be winning back support from 'liberal' Moscow and St Petersburg

polling by whom? given that the media is coming more closely under kremlin control, how reliable can these conclusions be?

busted (art), Wednesday, 24 September 2014 12:55 (six years ago) link

Polling conducted by the Levada Center is generally thought to be fairly reliable outside of Russia. They are independent of government and tracked Putin's decline in popularity before he bounced back up.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Wednesday, 24 September 2014 13:47 (six years ago) link

Sanctions starting to hit Muscovites where it hurts:

Fish costs jumped 30 percent in the past month, according to Dve Palochki’s Sukhochev. Customers at the 40-restaurant chain, which uses 15 tons of salmon a month, also have complained about the pale color of the Chilean salmon, he said. Sukhochev plans to roll out a new menu next month that will pass some of the added costs on to consumers.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Thursday, 25 September 2014 07:20 (six years ago) link

Feel like this is a good thread to link to this

, Thursday, 25 September 2014 11:45 (six years ago) link

The series from Dagestan on her site is very good.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Thursday, 25 September 2014 11:50 (six years ago) link

New report on political prisoners in Uzbekistan.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Friday, 26 September 2014 05:36 (six years ago) link

The Prosecutor General has requested that Bashneft be returned to state control:

Yevtushenkov, who was previously the 15th richest Russian with a net worth of £5.5bn, according to Forbes Russia, was unexpectedly charged with money laundering and embezzlement earlier this month. The accusations relate to his 80% stake in Bashneft, acquired over almost a decade from structures controlled by Ural Rakhimov, who has been placed under an international search warrant. Rakhimov initially purchased Bashneft in 2003 from the government of Russia’s republic of Bashkortostan, which was at that time led by his father.

Yevtushenkov’s case has been labelled “Yukos 2.0” by the business community and likened to the case against oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky, whose leading Yukos oil company was broken up and absorbed by state energy champion Rosneft after he was sent to prison for a decade in 2003. President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman has denied the case is politically motivated.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Saturday, 27 September 2014 07:15 (six years ago) link

A suicide bombing in Grozny killed five police officers yesterday:

Ramzan Kadyrov has his own commemorative coin:

The Latvian ruling coalition (a mixture of centre-right, agrarian and hard-right parties) won about 60% of the vote in the election last week but the single largest party was broadly pro-Russian 'Harmony', on about 23%. Worth remembering that about 14% of Latvia's population (or 320,000, almost all of them Russian) aren't eligible to vote as 'non-citizens'.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Monday, 6 October 2014 11:37 (six years ago) link

Wow that's a messed up status

, Monday, 6 October 2014 11:44 (six years ago) link

Yes, it's the same in Estonia. Some people prefer it as it allows for easier movement to and from Russia but lots just find the naturalisation process (which requires competency in the absurdly complex Estonian language) too great a barrier. They can live there but have no right to vote.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Monday, 6 October 2014 17:02 (six years ago) link

This is bonkers and already receiving pushback from members of the ruling party.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Saturday, 11 October 2014 19:25 (six years ago) link

Far-right clashing with police / government in Kiev:

Tipping point seems to have been the failure of the government to formally recognise the wartime contribution of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army who allied themselves with the Nazis during WW2.

Sure it'll blow over before i'm there on Thursday.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Tuesday, 14 October 2014 13:47 (six years ago) link

oh hey I missed this thread before, bookmarked and thank you!

sleeve, Tuesday, 14 October 2014 15:14 (six years ago) link

Things are perversely quiet at Maidan Nezalezhnosti at the moment. I'm used to it being a hub of activity, commerce and, particularly in the run up to an election, political campaigning but there's nothing much happening now. There are some small shrines to those killed earlier in the year and enormous banners masking the most heavily damaged building proclaiming "long live Ukraine, long live the heroes". You can see where stones and bricks were prised up to use as weapons but there are few other visual signs anything happened.

My hotel doubles as the Ukraine Crisis Briefing Centre though most of the journalists seem to have gone elsewhere now. There are quite a few soldiers in fatigues sitting around outside - presumably back from the East and with nothing much to do now but drink beer and scratch up some money. There are plenty of people 'collecting for the war effort' but most are just using it as a ruse to scam some change.

The campaigning that is going on ahead of the election next week seems really subdued compared to normal. Blok Poroshenko, Timoshenko's group, Svoboda and the National Front are all present but there's very little energy and activity. I'm used to huge tents, lots of noise and lots of people but it's very quiet at the moment. The one huge element missing is the Party Of The Regions, of course.

There's more nationalist kitsch about and some Pravy Sektor graffiti here and there but no sign of the huge far-right presence that was here earlier in the week.

The one really obvious difference from the last time I was here is the sense of economic decline. Lots of shops in the glitzy malls are vacant, the main shopping streets are very quiet and Bessarabsky Rynok looks almost like a normal fruit and veg market. The combination of uncertain incomes and rampant inflation has hit hard. Also fewer adverts for new flats and high-interest savings accounts.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Friday, 17 October 2014 13:11 (six years ago) link

Radek Sikorski apparently told Politico that Putin had offered to partition Ukraine with Poland in a meeting with Donald Tusk in Moscow in 2008.

He's currently backtracking and getting rinsed by his own Prime Minister:

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Tuesday, 21 October 2014 16:57 (six years ago) link

Looks like the Russia / Ukraine gas deal has stalled. The price has been agreed but Ukraine simply doesn't have any money to pay either outstanding debts or for winter deliveries.

Russia has said the EU should cover immediate costs, the EU isn't particularly keen. I was discussing this with a Ukrainian colleague the other day, someone fully behind the move towards closer ties with Western Europe, and we both came to the conclusion that the EU had vastly understimated how much money it would cost to bring Ukraine out of Russia's orbit. If the intention was to rebuild the country's economic and financial structure to ensure it wasn't predominantly reliant on Russia in the future and could, one day, be a candidate country for membership, there needs to be an international commitment to supporting that with hundreds of billions of Euro. Weaselling out of offering €2bn to keep the lights on this winter isn't a good sign any real effort will be made to follow through on the hints and half promises made earlier in the year. Ultimately, the EU probably can't afford to back Ukraine properly and is justifiably concerned about where a lot of the money would go if it did.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Wednesday, 22 October 2014 06:25 (six years ago) link

"from the southern seas to the Polish lands" amirite guys

sv what do you think of kaspaov

the final twilight of all evaluative standpoints (nakhchivan), Friday, 24 October 2014 21:55 (six years ago) link


the final twilight of all evaluative standpoints (nakhchivan), Friday, 24 October 2014 21:55 (six years ago) link

Not a fan. I think he's broadly sincere but extremely naive. On paper a lot of his proposals have sounded reasonable in the past but his alignment with US neocons and various dubious oligarchs have always given the impression that he's being used as a palatable front for much more sinister interests. He has become increasingly hysterical in his rhetoric in recent years too. The Other Russia concept of a broad anti-Putin alliance spanning the whole political spectrum was interesting for a while but at this stage he's just an irrelevance playing to a Western gallery. He doesn't even have any real support from Russian liberals. Navalny is a more significant figure these days.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Friday, 24 October 2014 22:18 (six years ago) link

If the exit polls are to be believed, Poroshenko has done much worse than expected and Yatseniuk much better.

БПП (23%), "НАРОДНЫЙ ФРОНТ"(21,3%), "САМОПОМИЧ"(13,2%), ОБ (7,6%), РАДИКАЛЬНАЯ ПАРТИЯ(6,4%), "СВОБОДА"(6,3%), "БАТЬКИВЩИНА"(5,6%) НАЦ ЭП

Real success for the Samopomich party too. Lyashko's Radical Party was polling at around 12% previously, so to see them take only half of that is a relief. Timoshenko polling behind Svoboda looks like total humiliation.

Hopefully this will mean a fairly stable Poroshenko / Yatseniuk coalition that doesn't need to draw support from the further-right.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Sunday, 26 October 2014 18:28 (six years ago) link

Should probably post that in English, really:

БПП (23%) - Blok Petro Poroshenko (centre-right, pro-European, nationalist) - party of the current President.

"НАРОДНЫЙ ФРОНТ"(21,3%)- People's Front (hard-right, pro-European, nationalist) - party of former PM Arseniy Yatseniuk. Previously closer to Poroshenko but turned increasingly to the right as the relationship faltered.

"САМОПОМИЧ"(13,2%) - Samopomich (Christian Conservative, pro-European, nationalist) - effectively a regional party with a lot of supporters in the West of the country. Hanna Hopko, who headed their party list, is one to watch out for in the future, she was very active in the protests and has picked up a lot of attention internationally. Second on the list was Semen Semenchenko who was the head of the anti-separatist Donbass Battalion militia.

ОБ (7,6%) - Opposition Block (conservative, pro-Russian) - disorganised remnant of the Party Of The Regions, previously the largest party in Ukraine.

РАДИКАЛЬНАЯ ПАРТИЯ(6,4%) - Radical Party (far-right, pro-European, nationalist) - wildcard party led by Oleh Lyashko, an antisemitic vigilante nutcase.

"СВОБОДА"(6,3%) - Svoboda (neo-Nazi, nationalist)

"БАТЬКИВЩИНА"(5,6%) - Bat'kivshina (conservative, pro-European, nationalist) - Yulia Timoshenko's party. Seems to have completely collapsed.

Turnout was around 40% nationally, though as low as 16% in Odessa.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Sunday, 26 October 2014 19:11 (six years ago) link

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Sunday, 26 October 2014 19:19 (six years ago) link

Anyone interested can keep track of the results as they come in here:

With a third of the vote counted, Yatseniuk's party is actually fractionally in front of Poroshenko's, though to all intents and purposes, it's a dead heat.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Monday, 27 October 2014 08:05 (six years ago) link

good luck ukraine

Still only 72% of ballots counted but it looks like the proportion of the Fascist vote going to Lyashko was underestimated and Svoboda might just miss the 5% threshold for PR representation as a result. They are at 4.7% at the moment.

Positives, if things stay as they, are would be that between them, the three main parties should be able to form a stable government in the short term. The worst case scenario of Lyashko getting 15% and getting to act as kingmaker has been avoided. Svoboda will probably miss out on PR seats. Timoshenko faces at least a couple of years in the wilderness. There are a few interesting new faces (Mustafa Nayem, Hanna Hopko, etc). Yatseniuk's rep as a safe pair of hands might mean the EU is more likely to open the purse strings if he is PM.

Negatives are zero representation from parties that can credibly be called liberal, progressive or leftist. No parties that can credibly claim to bridge ethnic gap. Only voices for Russian Ukrainians are the dregs of the party run out of town (meaning most had nobody worth voting for, and didn't bother). Nobody to act as a break on the rush to IMF austerity. Approx 14% of the vote for Fascist parties. Two of the six parties explicitly controlled by oligarchs, at least three of the remaining four covertly controlled by them (not sure about Samopomich but wouldn't be surprised). No sign of grass roots politics taking hold.

Despite his recently discovered appreciation of WW2 war criminals, Poroshenko is probably the closest thing to a European moderate and losing so much ground to Yatseniuk isn't good news either.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Monday, 27 October 2014 18:57 (six years ago) link

kinda lol but mostly sad

RT is going to launch a dedicated UK channel this week:

Not a huge amount of bespoke programming but they've apparently been spending a lot on recruitment so it's likely to grow. No doubt my dad, who watches it religiously for some reason, will be thrilled. If the price of oil keeps dropping the spending on propaganda might scale back, though.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Wednesday, 29 October 2014 08:16 (six years ago) link

Balkanist has been running some great cultural content recently, particularly about turbofolk in Serbia. They're going to do a horror film supplement for Halloween in the next day or two as well.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Wednesday, 29 October 2014 08:39 (six years ago) link

RT is kinda fascinating as a repository of stuff which would otherwise never make it onto television in any semi serious form but is instead lent the authoritative news-channel-sheen. max keiser flatly explaining to russell brand how a newly independent scotland should adopt bitcoin as its currency and there's not even really a hint that there might be another credible view

ogmor, Wednesday, 29 October 2014 14:06 (six years ago) link

RT guy on R4 just now not really doing a good job of selling it

DG, Wednesday, 29 October 2014 16:49 (six years ago) link

rt >>>>> r4

the final twilight of all evaluative standpoints (nakhchivan), Wednesday, 29 October 2014 16:54 (six years ago) link

no, come on, you can't seriously be comparing the craven and mendacious propaganda arm of an authoritarian government with Russia Today ho ho ho

That's what the RT guy said

DG, Wednesday, 29 October 2014 16:59 (six years ago) link

Kyiv's oldest and best cinema, Zhovten, burned down last night in what's thought to have been an arson attack.

It had been the subject of an ongoing land dispute but the suspicion is that it's linked to the fact it was showing Mario Fanfani's Les Nuits d'Ete as part of an LGBT-friendly film festival.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Thursday, 30 October 2014 08:04 (six years ago) link

cool that ukraine has detached itself from the corrupt, bigoted, authoritarian Russian sphere of influence tho

Russia / Ukraine deal on gas has been finalised with the EU acting as guarantor. Someone has come up with $3bn from somewhere to cover old debts and down payment. Means the heating will stay on through the winter, which is great news.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Thursday, 30 October 2014 22:15 (six years ago) link

The number of people who say they'd vote for Putin again if there was an election tomorrow has dipped below 50% for the first time since the Ukraine crisis started - possibly a hint that there are concerns about sanctions hitting the economy.

It's still substantially higher than the 26% he was polling earlier in the year and with Gennady Zyuganov of the Communist Party in second place (with 7%) it's not exactly a sign of greater plurality.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Friday, 31 October 2014 08:17 (six years ago) link

This guy has just been made Chief Of Police in Kyiv

Note the insignia on his shirt.

He's Deputy Commander of the neo-Nazi Azov militia.

Neither of the two main parties are Fascist in any meaningful sense but clearly there's a perceived need to pander to the extreme right.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Saturday, 1 November 2014 14:42 (six years ago) link

Reports are coming through suggesting that the suspected Moscow "Grand Theft Auto" killers have been caught.

They were apparently putting spikes on roads late at night and shooting anyone whose cars got stopped by them, for no apparent reason. Nothing was ever stolen. They were thought to have killed at least 14 people in the last few months. It sounds a bit like an urban legend but is supposedly 100% true.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Thursday, 6 November 2014 12:13 (six years ago) link

The Rouble has gone crazy. Was about 50 to the GBP this time last year. Was 71 yesterday, 76 today.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Friday, 7 November 2014 08:15 (six years ago) link

Banks are reportedly running out of foreign currency (as they did in Ukraine months ago) because so many people are trying to take their savings out in Dollars and Euro. If it hasn't happened already, i wouldn't be surprised to see them follow Ukraine in limiting the amount of cash people can take out in a day.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Friday, 7 November 2014 08:18 (six years ago) link


sleeve, Friday, 7 November 2014 15:01 (six years ago) link

The "ceasefire", which was never really a ceasefire on either side, looks officially over now. Ukraine has claimed separatists in Donetsk have received a resupply of heavy weaponry from Russia and the Ukrainian army has stepped up shelling of the area. ITAR-TASS says that they've hit a kindergarten, killing several children. The Netherlands have donated €500k worth of what are euphemistically in Ukraine called "wearable anti-cold-systems" (which means warm coats and boots without holes in them) but nobody has committed to donating arms yet. There's speculation that the US Republicans might try to force something through, though idk if they would be allowed to even if they wanted to.

Interesting things happening in Georgia. The firing of the Defense Minister has been seen by some, particularly the fired Defense Minister, as a shift away from Europe and towards Russia. The government has restated that EU membership remains a priority though.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Sunday, 9 November 2014 11:16 (six years ago) link

Azerbaijan has shot down an Armenian helicopter that was apparently flying close to the border of Nagorno-Karabakh and Azerbaijan proper.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Wednesday, 12 November 2014 13:11 (six years ago) link

More on the Armenia / Azeri helicopter thing:

“This is the worst military incident in more than 20 years since the cease-fire,” Thomas de Waal, senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said by e-mail from Washington.

Seen as a continuation of the incidents that killed around 20 people in the summer, that's probably true.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Thursday, 13 November 2014 08:29 (six years ago) link

Not really region-specific but the ability of any currency to drop about 15% in an hour and a quarter when the automated trades are triggered is fairly terrifying. Ukraine keeps ploughing money into trying to stabilise the UAH and the effects last about a week before being totally wiped out. I'm not sure what you can do in that situation.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Thursday, 13 November 2014 08:40 (six years ago) link

Tymoshenko has turned up the heat in the Ukrainian election race by starting impeachment proceedings against Poroshenko:

The scandal (turning a blind eye to one of his pals laundering dirty money through inflated orders of military parts) would generally fall under the category of ‘garden variety crimes’ people would be expected to get away with normally but the timing is a gift to Yulia. Her momentum seems to have been slowing in the polls recently. Also highlights that, despite the monumental risks, there is still a lot of very good, very brave investigative reporting going on.

Volodymyr Zelensky, a comedian who starred in a hit comedy show about a normal guy running for president to tackle corruption, and then decided to do it irl, has raced past Tymoshenko and Poroshenko to lead almost all polls by some distance now. It would be an interesting story about a (relatively) down-to-earth David taking on two oligarch Goliaths if it wasn’t for the very strong possibility / probability that he is a front for their eternal frenemy Ihor Kolomoyskyi, who owns the channel the show aired on.

ShariVari, Tuesday, 26 February 2019 16:51 (one year ago) link

i thought you meant his comedy show was about his decision to do corruption instead, which is sorta sbc retread-y

Hunt3r, Tuesday, 26 February 2019 20:31 (one year ago) link

three weeks pass...

Nazarbayev is retiring after thirty years running Kazakhstan with immediate effect!

ShariVari, Tuesday, 19 March 2019 14:41 (one year ago) link

First round of the Ukrainian election is this week. Things are looking up a bit for Poroshenko as Yulia is tanking in the polls and he is probably odds-on to make the second round run-off against Zelenskiy.

Poroshenko is also suing the television station that Zelenskiy’s comedy show airs on for libel, I think. He is trying to hammer the message that his rival is a puppet of the oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky, who owns the channel. It’s not hard to see why people are flocking to a comedian with no experience if these stats are correct:

Just 9 percent of Ukrainians have confidence in their national government, the lowest of any electorate in the world, a Gallup poll published in March showed. The global average was 56 percent in 2018. Just 12 percent of Ukrainian adults have confidence in the honesty of elections, while 91 percent believe corruption in their government is widespread.

ShariVari, Wednesday, 27 March 2019 12:32 (one year ago) link

Looks like Zelenskiy and Poroshenko going through to the run-off if the exit polling is accurate.

It’s a healthy lead for Zelenskiy and idk how many of the Tymoshenko voters are going to vote for Poroshenko in the next round. Could still go either way, though.

ShariVari, Sunday, 31 March 2019 17:43 (one year ago) link

Yulia is not convinced.

Юлія Тимошенко та Володимир Зеленський виходять у другий тур, – дані опитувань з 18 тис. дільниць

— ВО Батьківщина (@Batkivshchyna) March 31, 2019

ShariVari, Sunday, 31 March 2019 17:48 (one year ago) link

some great photos from Ararat Valley, Armenia – 2017. And unbelievable that the world's most dangerous nuclear power plant (no containment vessels and is situated in a seismic activity zone) is still just about operational

calzino, Tuesday, 2 April 2019 12:42 (one year ago) link

I have really interesting book about Metsamor looking at how it was designed as a utopian city of the future. I’d love to see it.

ShariVari, Tuesday, 2 April 2019 13:48 (one year ago) link

the nuclear power plant looks stunning, but practically the same model as Chernobyl (but in a quake zone) and still getting life extension permits!

calzino, Tuesday, 2 April 2019 15:11 (one year ago) link

God knows how many of them there are left. This is the book:

It’s more from an architecture/ town planning perspective but definitely interesting.

ShariVari, Tuesday, 2 April 2019 17:09 (one year ago) link

The Ukrainian election is getting quite weird.

Poroshenko offered to debate Zelenskiy on TV, the assumption being that his policy experience would show Zelenskiy up as not having a firm grasp on the issues. Zelenskiy has agreed - on the conditions that the debate would be held in front of an audience of tens of thousands at the Olympic stadium and that both participants would have full drug tests before the event.

There is now a proposal that Yulia Tymoshenko, who still thinks the first round of voting was dodgy, should be the debate moderator.

This is full-on politics as show business and a pretty high risk strategy if Zelenskiy wants to be taken seriously but is going to be interesting to see play out.

ShariVari, Friday, 5 April 2019 12:32 (one year ago) link

hahaha what!?

Lil' Brexit (Tracer Hand), Friday, 5 April 2019 12:36 (one year ago) link

Yep- and Klitchko has weighed in to say the drug tests didn’t conform to proper WADA standards as they both used private labs so he wants to get them redone.

ShariVari, Friday, 5 April 2019 12:39 (one year ago) link

haha YES

Lil' Brexit (Tracer Hand), Friday, 5 April 2019 13:06 (one year ago) link

that a comedian won the first round suggests no one cares whether he has a firm grasp on the issues. and trying to debate a comedian in front of a live audience seems like a very poor idea

mookieproof, Friday, 5 April 2019 21:25 (one year ago) link

It probably is a poor idea but I don’t think he has any other ones at the moment.

The US/FBI seems like it wants to ride to the rescue though - leaking about an apparent investigation into Zelenskiy’s alleged benefactor. The US and Germany have been dropping heavy hints about wanting people to stick with Poroshenko.

ShariVari, Monday, 8 April 2019 07:24 (one year ago) link

Election continues to deliver.

“European future of Ukraine” — a group directly associated with Poroshenko’s reelection campaign — is promoting a video in which his opponent & frontrunner Zelenskiy is hit by a truck. The video ends with suggestion he’s a drug addict & the message: “Everyone has their own way.”

— Christopher Miller (@ChristopherJM) April 11, 2019

ShariVari, Thursday, 11 April 2019 08:18 (one year ago) link

The current state of the election can probably best be summarised by that gif of two dogs barking at each other through a retracting fence that stop and turn around as soon as the fence has disappeared and they can see each other face-to-face.

Poroshenko called the '14-14'14' debate for 14:14 on the 14th of April and packed the Olympic stadium with his supporters. Zelenskiy, who had just returned from a meeting with Macron in Paris, didn't turn up. Zelenskiy has called a similar debate on the 19th of April and it seems almost inevitable that Poroshenko won't turn up to that one.

State media, Poroshenko and the Chairman of parliament, Andriy Parubiy, have gone into full Yeltsin-in-96 mode, calling the possibility of Zelenskiy winning an existential threat to Ukraine, a victory for Russia, and end to the march towards progress, etc. Although the odds (the last poll i saw had Zelenskiy on 49% and Poroshenko on 20%) look fairly insurmountable, Yeltsin came back from worse.

Poroshenko falling back on nationalism was inevitable but idk if it is going to be that effective. It's generally assumed that Arsen Avakov, the Interior Minister and godfather of the far-right nationalist Azov battalion supports Zelenskiy and Zelenskiy's patron, Ihor Kolomoskiy, has probably donated more money than anyone to similar militia groups fighting separatists.

ShariVari, Tuesday, 16 April 2019 07:16 (one year ago) link

State media, Poroshenko and the Chairman of parliament, Andriy Parubiy, have gone into full Yeltsin-in-96 mode, calling the possibility of Zelenskiy winning an existential threat to Ukraine, a victory for Russia, and end to the march towards progress, etc.

So a bit like the Tories and Corbyn then?

Do you like 70s hard rock with a guitar hero? (Tom D.), Tuesday, 16 April 2019 07:23 (one year ago) link

lol, i was just thinking that yesterday. The idea that 'managed democracies' are uniquely prone to this kind of this is obviously not true.

ShariVari, Tuesday, 16 April 2019 07:31 (one year ago) link

Latest polling ahead of Sunday's election:

Poll by KIIS research firm showed Zelenskiy on 72.2 percent of the vote.

Incumbent Petro Poroshenko was on 25.4 percent.

— Polina Ivanova (@polinaivanovva) April 16, 2019

Impressive if true as it looks like almost all the undecided voters are breaking for Zelenskiy.

ShariVari, Tuesday, 16 April 2019 11:57 (one year ago) link

It looks like there will be a debate at the Olympic stadium today after all but the candidates will be on two separate stages. idk how that works but we will find out. The final vote is on Sunday.

The big news yesterday was that Ihor Kolomoisky, the oligarch apparently backing Zelenskiy, won his legal case over the nationalisation of his private bank. He had been accused of pinching billions of dollars of investors’ money and using fraudulent loans to cover it up, and has been in Israel avoiding extradition ever since. A court ruled there wasn’t enough evidence / justification for Poroshenko to have the bank expropriated. It potentially means a massive payout, and the opportunity to return to Ukraine - particularly if his man wins. Poroshenko has suggested returning the bank to Kolomoisky could mean Ukraine defaulting on their international/ IMF debts, whoever wins.

ShariVari, Friday, 19 April 2019 07:11 (one year ago) link

The debate seems like a farce - set up with two stages with rival supporters in ‘fan zones’ taking up one half of the pitch each, with a line of police separating them. The moderator was going to be on the half-way line as well. Eventually Zelenskiy and Poroshenko did share a stage but spent the entire time insulting each other and suggesting the other was a puppet / going to jail. It looks like barely anyone turned up. However, the fact that it took place at all - a first for Ukraine and not going to happen any time soon in Russia - is being seen as a victory of sorts.

This Atlantic Council article blaming ‘the west’ for the rise of Zelenskiy is magnificent, in its own way.

The gist is that investing money in independent investigative journalism is a terrible thing as it exposes corruption and makes everyone unhappy with the government. Better to gloss over the corruption and focus on the reforms.

To reduce corruption, Ukraine needs a competent legal system that does not exist. Without it, the continued focus on exposes of alleged crimes that can’t realistically be punished seems irresponsible and counterproductive. Better to spend the money on an entertaining and educational series like a “CSI Kyiv.”

The problem for both the West and whoever wins is that the ‘reforms’ are even more unpopular than the corruption. Tying IMF loans to conditions like reductions in already terrible pensions, ending fuel subsidies for heating, etc, etc, means that, given a free-ish choice, people are always going to vote for someone else.

ShariVari, Saturday, 20 April 2019 07:36 (one year ago) link

Ze has won by a landslide, close to three quarters of the vote and carrying 23 of Ukraine’s 24 regions. The final vote hasn’t finished but Poroshenko has conceded.

ShariVari, Sunday, 21 April 2019 20:02 (one year ago) link

I can't wait till someone from UK comedy decides to save us from this rotten and dysfunctional two party system...

calzino, Sunday, 21 April 2019 20:09 (one year ago) link

seven months pass...

Pavel Sheremet, a top Belarussian journalist, was killed with a car bomb in Kyiv this morning. He was driving the car of the head of Ukrainian Pravda, possibly one of the most important papers looking into political and corporate corruption in the wider region. He was a critic of Putin and Lukashenko and a friend of Boris Nemtsov, so fingers will inevitably be pointed in that direction, but in the current situation there is unfortunately no shortage of people with the means or motive to kill investigative reporters.

Three years on, the police have just arrested a metal guitarist and his partner after identifying the distinctive band logo on the former’s hoodie via surveillance footage,

There it is. Ukrainian police name suspects as Yulia Kuzmenko and Andriy Antonenko. They tie Antonenko to the crime via his sweatshirt logo. See above in this thread for background on that.

— Christopher Miller (@ChristopherJM) December 12, 2019

Both suspects were in a nationalist militia group and Antonenko just got a fawning interview from the US-government-funded Radio Liberty / Svoboda last week. It’s great to see someone potentially being brought to justice for this. It is one of a couple of crimes that had hung over the head of journalists, and broader civil society, for years.

Srinivasaraghavan VONCataraghavan (ShariVari), Thursday, 12 December 2019 16:02 (eleven months ago) link

one month passes...

Big new constitutional proposals from Putin - suggesting an absolute two-term maximum on the Presidency and the potential delegation of a lot more power to Parliament. This is a fairly interesting bit of quick analysis / speculation:

It's been a while since a major #Putin policy address has been anything other than boring. Not today. Today, Putin proposed a radical reshaping of #Russia's political system.

Kind of.

THREAD #Послание2020


— Sam Greene (@samagreene) January 15, 2020

Medvedev, who was assumed to be Putin's successor again for years but who has been sidelined a bit following corruption allegations, has resigned as Prime Minister, along with the rest of the government. The expectation is that some will be rehired to their posts but not him.

ShariVari, Wednesday, 15 January 2020 13:47 (ten months ago) link

five months pass...

Rise in nuclear particles detected in Sweden and assessed to be originating from western Russia.

That is similar to how the Chernobyl disaster came to light in 1986.

— Marten Hendriksma (@MHendriksma) June 27, 2020

Scampidocio (Le Bateau Ivre), Monday, 29 June 2020 11:36 (five months ago) link

Anybody got any insight into the Sergey Furgal murder case?

anvil, Saturday, 11 July 2020 04:59 (four months ago) link

I’ve not seen anything particularly useful.

The allegations stem back, at least in part, to his time as a scrap metal processor. The mother of one of the victims says Furgal refused to pay for a consignment of scrap and sent some heavies round when her son complained, who ended up shooting him. Furgal’s assistant, at the time, was arrested but the case was nixed somewhere along the bureaucratic chain. It’s impossible to say whether that’s true but it’s not far-fetched when it comes to LDPR politicians.

The trouble central government has is that Furgal is popular and a lot of people don’t really care whether he’s a murderer or not. There’s a default assumption that most of the elite were up to no good fifteen years ago and as long as he’s not ripping people off now, that’s the important thing.

The question is why is it being brought up now, which idk if there has been anything insightful on. Old cases do sometimes catch up with politicians but it’s usually when they’re causing a particular nuisance to central government. There was a fairly similar case with Anatoly Bykov from Krasnoyarsk back in May, which again, I haven’t seen much on.

Scampo di tutti i Scampi (ShariVari), Saturday, 11 July 2020 08:53 (four months ago) link

The official explanation in both cases, iirc, is confederates were arrested for something else and informed on them but I’m not sure how many people buy that.

Scampo di tutti i Scampi (ShariVari), Saturday, 11 July 2020 08:55 (four months ago) link

Up to 40k people protesting now.

Khabarovsk’s protests against the arrest of their governor are quite something. The murder allegations could very well be true, but the case is nevertheless political and the public fucking knows it.

— Kevin Rothrock (@KevinRothrock) July 11, 2020

Scampo di tutti i Scampi (ShariVari), Saturday, 11 July 2020 09:37 (four months ago) link

Aha. There are reports that the investigation into Furgal kicked off again after a conflict with a businessman from Boris and Arkady Rotenberg's circle.

Furgal bought half of the Amurmetal steel producer (on paper, it was Furgal's wife who bought it), the other half was purchased by a businessman who borrowed their stake from the Rotenberg family. Furgal subsequently supported a ban on the export of scrap metal through Eastern ports, giving Amurmetal a monopoly. The businessman wanted to sell his share to Chinese investors, Furgal didn't and they ended up accusing each other of fraud. It was apparently around this time that the murder investigation was opened again.

The Rotenbergs are two of Putin's closest advisors and, generally, when they want their interests advanced by the state, they are. As is often the case, all this political intrigue can probably be traced back to a couple of criminals fighting over privatised state assets.

Incidentally Boris Rotenberg jr's contract has finally expired at Lokomotiv Moscow. He was a non-playing substitute for the best part of five years - getting on the pitch nine times over that period, and not once since 2017-2018. He also has a solitary cap for Finland.

Scampo di tutti i Scampi (ShariVari), Tuesday, 14 July 2020 09:09 (four months ago) link

two weeks pass...

Today's O_o news is that the Belarusian press agency has announced 32 mercenaries from Wagner were arrested at a sanatorium in Minsk and have been accused of trying to destabilise Lukashenko's election campaign.

Nobody i've seen can make any sense of it.

Scampo di tutti i Scampi (ShariVari), Wednesday, 29 July 2020 12:54 (four months ago) link

The most plausible explanation so far is that they were transiting through Belarus before or after fighting in Libya to avoid the Russian COVID travel restrictions but Lukashenko's media seizing on the opportunity to claim he was being undermined is interesting.

Scampo di tutti i Scampi (ShariVari), Wednesday, 29 July 2020 16:28 (four months ago) link

two weeks pass...

Difficult to predict what'll happen in Belarus now but i'd guess that if anything's going to move the dial, it'd be large-scale industrial action. There have been a few state-linked companies whose workers have gone on strike, idk how much that'll grow.

It's probably fair to assume that even people who voted for Lukashenko on the grounds of stability will be aware that the ballot was massively rigged. He has never appeared more vulnerable or rattled. A speech he gave prior to the vote suggested that he thought his fifteen year-old son, and presumed long-term successor, Kolya, had turned against him.

Scampo di tutti i Scampi (ShariVari), Thursday, 13 August 2020 08:09 (three months ago) link

Well there you go:

A number of major enterprises have joined the strike in #Belarus
Now it's truly national

- Grodno Azot, chemical-industry giant
- Belmedpreparaty, pharmaceutical plant
- Keramin, one of the largest ceramic tiles producers in Europe

— Denis Kazakiewicz (@Den_2042) August 13, 2020

Scampo di tutti i Scampi (ShariVari), Thursday, 13 August 2020 11:46 (three months ago) link

This seems like a good analysis both of why this is happening now and why it's different from opposition movements in other parts of the region.

Scampo di tutti i Scampi (ShariVari), Friday, 14 August 2020 09:56 (three months ago) link

thanks for these links

sleeve, Saturday, 15 August 2020 00:45 (three months ago) link

Today's O_o news is that the Belarusian press agency has announced 32 mercenaries from Wagner were arrested at a sanatorium in Minsk and have been accused of trying to destabilise Lukashenko's election campaign.

Nobody i've seen can make any sense of it.

There's a completely bananas and as yet thinly-sourced story circulating that this was part of an elaborate sting operation by the Ukrainian secret services. Essentially, they set up a fake mercenary company in Russia and recruited a bunch of people they wanted to arrest for fighting in Donbas, on the pretext that they were sending them to Syria. They'd be deployed from Belarus but, on the way from Minsk to Istanbul, the plane would run into 'technical difficulties' and be forced to land in Kyiv, where they'd be arrested.

This was supposedly leaked by someone in the Ukrainian government, so Russia and Belarus had to swoop in to 'arrest' them before they could get on the plane - leading to recriminations between the security services and government in Ukraine.

Scampo di tutti i Scampi (ShariVari), Wednesday, 19 August 2020 10:47 (three months ago) link

Alex Navalny has been med-evac’d to Berlin, which can only be a good thing.

The assumption for years, which is still in place for a lot of analysts, including some harsh Putin critics, has been that Navalny is officially ‘untouchable’. He’s divisive enough not to be a major threat but popular enough that if anything happened to him, you can expect a wave of protests that would destabilise the country. The timing, against the backdrop of what’s happening with Furgal and in Belarus would also be strange.

However, Oleg Kashin, a friend of Navalny who is not typically given to massive hyperbole, is speculating about changing circumstances meaning the system has ‘moved past the need for opposition’.

The most obvious alternative, that Putin has lost control over the levers of political violence, is no more comforting. As with the Nemtsov case, there was speculation at the time that it wasn’t green-lit by Putin but whoever organised it didn’t care.

Scampo di tutti i Scampi (ShariVari), Saturday, 22 August 2020 05:17 (three months ago) link

Looks like he hasn’t made it to Berlin...

Li'l Brexit (Tracer Hand), Saturday, 22 August 2020 08:10 (three months ago) link

It was delayed but the plane apparently landed in Germany a couple of hours ago.

Scampo di tutti i Scampi (ShariVari), Saturday, 22 August 2020 08:58 (three months ago) link

Khabarovsk protests continuing, and it seems still very little crackdown?

anvil, Monday, 31 August 2020 07:03 (three months ago) link

The German government has released a statement suggesting Navalny was poisoned with something similar to Novichok.

Poisoning someone with a deadly nerve agent in a busy-ish airport doesn't seem like something that'll go down particularly well with the public.

Scampo di tutti i Scampi (ShariVari), Wednesday, 2 September 2020 13:55 (two months ago) link

four weeks pass...

Azerbaijan have released a military music video, featuring their soldiers playing guitars in front of APCs and other military hardware. This is truly is bizarre.

— Julian Lacey 🕊️ (@simulacrax) October 1, 2020

calzino, Thursday, 1 October 2020 22:10 (two months ago) link

one month passes...

We have modern weaponry and high fighting spirit. We showed who’s who and proved that Armenia’s ”invincible army” was a myth. They have already admitted defeat. This is an acknowledgment of their military defeat and our victory.

— Ilham Aliyev (@presidentaz) November 4, 2020

The "this" referred to is a request from Armenia to Russia for military assistance. Realistically, it seems virtually inconceivable that Russia could send troops / commanders to offer the same kind of assistance that Azerbaijan has received from Turkey.

Scampo di tutti i Scampi (ShariVari), Wednesday, 4 November 2020 11:45 (three weeks ago) link

Nikol Pashinyan, PM of Armenia, has said via Facebook that he has signed an ‘unspeakably painful’ peace declaration to end the war tonight - almost inevitably ceding control of Karabakh to Azerbaijan.

Scampo di tutti i Scampi (ShariVari), Monday, 9 November 2020 22:15 (three weeks ago) link

1. Armenia implements UN resolutions, different districts hand over to Azerbaijani authorities before 15th November, 20th November, 1 December,
2. Current frontlines halt as of Moscow midnight
3. Russian Federation peacekeepers to protect 5kms Lachin corridor for 5 years

— Liveuamap (@Liveuamap) November 9, 2020

Scampo di tutti i Scampi (ShariVari), Monday, 9 November 2020 22:18 (three weeks ago) link

It turns out the President of Armenia only found out about the ceasefire treaty via Facebook as well and has said the PM can’t sign anything without it being based on a ‘national consensus’.

Scampo di tutti i Scampi (ShariVari), Tuesday, 10 November 2020 07:16 (three weeks ago) link

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